Sunday, October 23, 2005

Hughes Stumbles Through Indonesia

Presidential envoy Karen Hughes continued to stumble her way through the Muslim world, this time meeting surprising resistance in Indonesia, one of the more moderate nations that is predominantly Muslim. (Washington Post: Hughes Misreports Iraqi History). The former Bush speech writer is working her way through Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and now Indonesia trying to boost America's image in Islamic culture.

Hughes' trip through Turkey, a NATO ally and one of the strongest supporters of US policy in the Muslim world, was a huge disappointment. She encountered many crowds that disapproved, not just of US actions, but of the goals set by the US in our Middle East policy. Surprisingly, large numbers of women in each of the countries she visited turned out to oppose some of the basic equal rights tenets of the US objectives.

Indonesia revealed more of the same. What Hughes encountered was very strong resistance, especially among younger Muslims, to US policies in Afghanistan, Iraq, and in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. None of this should have come as a surprise, and one must question why a State Department trainee was sent to represent our values to the Muslim community.

Hughes' international affairs experience is extremely limited. She has had no exposure to Muslim culture, and in dealings with Islamic societies abroad, she has absolutely no credibility whatsoever. Her trip to the Middle East and Indonesia is hurting our already tarnished image, rather than helping it.

Surely there must be more qualified women in the State Department to carry this tremendously important message to the Islamic world. The primary appeal we are making is to women that we view as oppressed, so sending an American woman to carry that message makes sense. But is there not a single Muslim woman in the State Department? It seems to me that the message would be far more credible if the person carrying it could at least relate to that culture.

I have no problems with the President surrounding himself with advisers and confidants he knows and trusts, provided those advisers and confidants are qualified for the position. While Karen Hughes is undoubtedly an excellent speech writer, she is clearly under qualified for the role she has been ordered to fill in the State Department. That is not the kind of blunder we can tolerate.


No comments :